OUT on the sunbaked Las Vegas strip on Saturday afternoon, several passersby shared in the assumption that Manny Pacquiao had long retired from the pursuit of professional boxing, and really, who could blame them for thinking that?
In truth, the assumption made a lot of sense. The name of arguably the era’s most accomplished fighter had been flittering around the mainstream for nearly two decades, an eternity in the breakneck continuum of pop-culture relevancy. The mid-aughts triptych of Barrera-Morales-Marquez, fights so brutally honest that they beckoned belief in violence, was not so long ago, yet at the same time it appeared distant, faded, encrusted in amber. Manny Pacquiao…The name was a harbinger of yesteryear.
“Pacquiao is fighting tonight?” One perplexed Delta airline worker asked, when informed of the night’s central act. “Didn’t he retire? I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that he retired.”